This post discusses episodes seven and eight of the second season of Veronica Mars.
“Where’s my martini? And why don’t I smell potroast?” Logan asks when he arrives home to Duncan’s suite, and finds Veronica and Logan watching The Big Lebowski. It’s a fitting start for a pair of episodes that’s substantially about gender conformity, from Kendall’s lack of skills outside of her status as a trophy wife, to Marcos’ stint in reparative therapy.
The show makes an interesting case out of the different ways Logan, Kendall, Duncan, and Veronica approach Logan’s affair with Kendall. “Dick and Beav’s stepmom just came over to have a go-around with your bunkmate,” Veronica wants to know of her boyfriend. “Doesn’t that bother you?” “No. I’m a guy,” Duncan tells her, rationalizing that sex is sex, no matter the source or the impact on anyone else. Veronica, who expected better, or at least different, from Duncan, is non-plussed. “Ass-slaps and high-fives to Logan for banging the hot chick,” she says, wearily. “Maybe she’ll buy us beer.” And Duncan isn’t alone in his attitude–and it seems like he’s right about the potential impact on Beaver, who presents Kendall with a French maid’s outfit he bought with the money from his trust fund, telling her “That’s what you’ll be wearing while you dust my armoire.”
Logan’s more cynical about the whole thing, with some justification, after Kendall starts looking to him as an alternate patron when Dick’s father provides her no means of financial support. “When looking for a sugar daddy, at least pick the richest guy in the suite,” Logan tells her. Kendall tries emotion, first asking him “Doesn’t this mean anything to you?” Kendall. When Logan tells her “It means I’m getting laid, and I owe your village a goat…Your feelings have grown as your available balance has shrunk,” she switches tactics. “You want to go back to playing grabass with cheerleaders who have just mastered missionary, seeya,” Kendall tells him. But even the prospect of more sexual experience doesn’t seem that compelling. “You ever think about just getting a job?” Logan asks her. It’s this that gets the truth out of Kendall: “This is my job.” She doesn’t know how to do anything else.
And it’s not just Neptune’s teenaged boys who have an opportunistic attitude towards sex. When Veronica takes over some of Meg’s babysitting work, she finds that the parents of Edwin, one of her charges, has a different kind of service in mind. “Saturdays, of course, I’m on the boat by myself if you ever want to come by, smoke a J, fool around,” the man tells her as if it’s normal. “We usually do a day trip once a month with my boss if you ever feel like working on a Sunday.”
There’s also a nervously obsessive trend that emerges in this set of episodes. Another client, an obsessive mom, tells Veronica “No juice, no soda, no diet drinks. If it’s not in this bag, it doesn’t go in his mouth. Understand?” The kid, of course, immediately demands all the treats in the world, and Veronica placates him with television. But when they discover Grace, Meg’s little sister, is being abused by Meg’s parents, it’s a different story. Rather than trying to make other people comply with her instructions for her child, as is the case with Veronica’s client, Meg’s parents have taken it upon themselves to turn Grace into a compliant doll, locking her in a closet, and making her write recitations in notebooks. While the little boy demands, and gets, whatever he wants, Grace, who is subject to actual abuse, has tried to be good. “I don’t want to be tested,” Grace tells Veronica and Duncan, terrified, when they try to rescue her. “Daddy says I’m not ready.” Girls aren’t the only people subjected to this kind of treatment–“I heard my father give that exact speech once,” Sheriff Lamb tells Meg and Grace’s father. But there’s something striking in the different treatment of that little boy and that little girl.
But when boys get older, the expectations get different, and the next episode of Veronica Mar provides some hints at what it’s like to be under that kind of pressure. Duncan is dreaming of Meg as an angel, begging to be saved, and Veronica as a tempting devil, who demands to know “Is that really what you want, Teddy Bears and mash notes? Grow up. Grow up and get over it.” But he’s obviously torn. Logan, who plays at enjoying his rakish attitude, shows up to help Veronica when she gets ambushed at a bar, and does something extremely stupid in the process, pulling a gun. “I’ve got 911 on the line. Can anyone give me the address here?” Logan tells the bikers, before turning to the operator and explaining. “I’m wearing one of those ankle monitoring things. Does that help?” It may have jeopardized his own freedom, but the showy gesture gives Logan a sense of being a good guy after, as he puts it, “I’ve had a very bad year.” And then there’s Marcos, whose parents shipped him off to therapy to try to change his sexual orientation, rather than accepting their son for the brilliant, attractive kid that he was. Everybody in Neptune, it seems, wants something, until the shine comes off and it becomes real.